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When it comes to Pawn, he’s always done it his way. The SMOG representer has funneled his influences into a unique sound that’s encompassed everything from early jungle, dubstep and footwork. And if his story is indicative of anything, it’s that he’ll always find new ways to express himself.
California-born Pawn’s story starts in the mid-’90s, when he discovered breakbeat hardcore and trip-hop. This lead to stumbling upon the jungle scene via the mixtape circuit; when he found out that the sounds of this genre was actually being played in venues near him, he started hitting up parties in the LA underground.
Pawn started producing seriously in 2004, making everything from IDM to jungle and hip-hop. It was around 2007-2008 that dubstep really hit the American electronic music scene. At that time, Pawn linked up with 12th Planet’s massive SMOG collective; it was an obvious marriage, as Pawn’s sound had moved toward the dubstep realm on its own. Being a member of SMOG helped expose Pawn to a number of new crowds, helping him bring his distinct sound throughout Los Angeles, as well as opening doors to some impressive collaborations, which included original tracks and remix work for the likes of 12th Planet, GZA and Ras Kass, The Glitch Mob, and CC Sheffield, all helping Pawn spread his wings throughout the scene and in the public.
2011 also saw Pawn release his first studio album, the broad-structured Close The Lights. Even before the release of this project, however, that Pawn’s sound start to walk down the juke/footwork lane(s), and with his background in jungle very handy, Pawn began a self-described redefinition of his sound, which has brought in an entirely new set of ears to his tracks. With the 160BPM zone being shared by the sounds of juke and jungle, it makes sense that Pawn’s pulsating rhythms and background could attack this lane in exciting new ways. Labels started to to listen, with releases for 119 Sound, Brap Dem, and of course SMOG picking up on the differing tempos that Pawn has been producing. He’s also become affiliated with fellow juke/jungle curators like Calculon, who has release two tracks from Pawn on his new Shoot Recordings imprint. Their partnership makes sense, as both Pawn and Calculon come from a drum & bass background, and have ready knowledge on the intricacies and nuances that bring styles like juke and jungle together better than others might realize.
Pawn moved from LA to the Bay 2010, but he now calls SoCal home once again, and has projects in action, ranging from a vinyl release on Modern Ruin, a remix forthcoming on Signaflo Music for SomeJerk and (obviously) more material for the home team, SMOG. What might excite you most, however, is the fact that he has his second album in the works; with the leaps and bounds that his sound has taken since Close The Lights was released, it’ll be interesting to see where Pawn’s future material will take listeners.
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